Tell us all a little about yourself – maybe something people may not know:
I came to New York for vocations for 3 weeks with one small yellow bag and I decide to stay this time (I have been visiting this country for about 4 years, but lived in Ukraine). Before Start Up, I worked as a director and show runner for Ukrainian TV. I also created TV characters for the hosts and set designs for a few shows, which was my favorite part. I monitored many fashion shows and played with many styles, colors, and forms, but mostly I tried to visualize my own ideas and mix it with pop style. The problem was that it was still Ukrainian TV, which limited my autonomy and creativity. I wanted more freedom and realized that without the education, my goal of becoming the next Dave Chapelle was minimized.
I worked on my artist visa for about 4 months. During that time I bought a decently priced camera and stopped people in public and asked them to be my model (in Cali it's not that easy, everybody is on the go so it’s hard to find someone you like on the street, but the hunting game was pretty fun! I loved the reactions people had from my ideas that involved the use of items such as paint, milk, chains, and toys. So I played with my ideas and at the same time I wrote and sent hundreds of letters to fashion photographers in New York. I thought that was the best way - to study with practice!
I was looking for an intern/assistant position with photographers and while practicing for fashion week. I had a background in media and connections in the Ukrainian fashion world, but it still took some time for people to respond. Eventually I got an offer to work as videographer for the biggest French fashion web channel. They paid for my hotel and I had the opportunity to work on some of the high end designers like Mark Jacobs, Thom Browne, Tory Burch, Diesel, Tommy Hilfiger, DKNY, Michael Kors, and so on. It was an unbelievable feeling!
Finally, one of the photographers responded to me and we started to work together. Work in fashion is a war, especially in New York. You have to fight, build strategy, and feel hunger and fear. Today you may be dying on the ground and tomorrow flying in the sky, but never give up, ever. That’s how my big New York journey started. I moved to 8 different places, survived the coldest time in NY, stayed in an old victorian style building with plastic bags on windows, on the empty floor of the building that was under construction (with ghosts!). I shared a room multiple times with multiple friends at different times and slept in a sleeping bag, because I wasn’t able to afford the mattress. It wasn’t until my last room sharing experience with a friend from Jersey that I finally had my own room. There were times that I didn’t have money for food or transportation, but I trucked through and now I have my own bed in the best city and I am very happy.
How would you describe your role on the show?
I do the beauty work, mostly video editing. I receive content for each business we feature from my wonderful colleague Breanna and make it look perfect (at least I try to!). The show wasn't really my style from the start, but I got in to it pretty fast. I like to expand my knowledge and develop myself as much as possible. I have learned a lot and have been greatly inspired through working on the show and working with the Start Up crew, and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to work for such a great show!
What is your favorite episode of Start-Up?
I would have to say that my favorite episode of START UP is from season 4 episode 2 “Have a Beer Outdoors”, featuring Brooklyn Outdoor and Brewvana. This was the first episode I began working on, so it definitely holds a special place for me. It was interesting, funny and overall a great experience…and I don’t even like beer!
If you were to start a new business right now, what type would it be? Why?
I volunteer for New York Care, an art education department for kids. In January I will start leading the class and working on my own education program. So I would like to develop an after school art program that works for shelters and regular schools (4-6 grade).
I'm honest with kids and I feel like that allows me to have a closer relationship with them. One of my 9 year old students once said that I'm a friend, not a teacher. My program is based on finding the art talent inside, without any pushing... in fun light way. So far I have one hour per week, but I would love to add more time in the future.
As a child I had a great relationship with my parents. I actually got to spend quality time with them and never had that distance that children and adults normally have. I watched movies with them, played video games (loser did the dishes), and I was never made to feel as if I were too little for anything. They never yelled at me and I was free in my choice. They were supportive of my choices and at the early age of 12, I began helping my mom sell stuff and was actually pretty good at it! I was free to try all different things like extracurricular activities such as dance, music, and art. If I didn’t enjoy the activity, I was able to switch out. My parents never lied to me about how great or special I was, I knew the truth of the existing and that to become someone, I had to work hard.
If someone were to take your phone out of your hand and listen to your music, what is the first song that would play?
I would have to say that it would probably be Clams Casino or Woodkid